Taken and Never Returned

The public’s perception of missing persons cases through exposure to crime television, is not accurate—-the vast majority of disappearance calls that law enforcement responds to are not criminally related. The persons thought to missing, turn-up later just fine.

Fortunately, when I was a patrol officer, I took lots of missing person reports; many involved incidents where the person’s loved one was sure something bad had happened only to find out later that he/she had voluntarily left for some reason.

In contrast, the missing adult and children cases that I have highlighted on this blog remain unsolved.

The following case has made me uncomfortable for years, and I list several reasons why after this summary:

On June 9, 1995 at 10:45pm Morgan Nick was getting ready to leave a Little League baseball game. The 6-year-old girl was at the game with her mom and had stayed a little bit later to catch some fireflies with friends.

While walking to her mom's car, Morgan realized she had some sand in her shoe. Cops say her mom had already sat down in the driver's seat to turn on the air conditioning. When Morgan's mom turned around to check up on her daughter... Morgan was gone. She was never heard from again.

Officials say several witnesses saw a white male watching Morgan as she was playing in the park with her friends.

Strange Vehicle

Officials say several witnesses saw a white male watching Morgan as she was playing in the park with her friends. Those who saw him say he was about 6 feet tall, with a medium build and had a mustache and one-inch beard.

At the time, witnesses say he was between 23 and 38 years old with curly, black or salt-and-pepper, slicked back hair.

Cops say, at the time of the crime, a witness saw a suspicious car parked nearby that disappeared around the same time as Morgan. The witness described the vehicle as a white camper, with rear damage on the passenger side, hooked up to a red Ford pick-up truck.

According to the witness, the pick-up looked odd with the camper, since the camper was around five inches too short for the truck. Cops say the truck had Arkansas plates.
Why this case bothers me:

Reason #1: Proximity—I spent most of my childhood not too far from Alma, AR. It is not a hotbed of criminal activity--much less child abductions.

Reason #2: Circumstances—When I read of the little girl being watched in the park while catching fireflies, I was reminded of how much freedom we had as children.

When my brother had a Little League baseball or football game, I would wander the expansive park area with friends until the game was over. I still remember the icy stare I got from Marine Dad one time when I was late returning and he had to go look for me as it was getting dark.

Reason #3: Suspect Description:--A suspect driving an old damaged pickup truck with an undersized camper shell, and an Arkansas plate is a fantastic lead for law enforcement to investigate; especially when a second attempted abduction was reported in the area a few days later. It makes you wonder what was wrong with the vehicle description…

As a result of the tragedy, the victim’s mother, Colleen Nick, started the Morgan Nick Foundation to provide a support network for the families of missing children and offer preventative education.

In closing, here is a letter posted on the Foundation’s site from Morgan Nick’s mother and father to their missing daughter:

Dear Morgan,

We want you to know how special you are! You are a blessing we cannot live without. We feel cheated every day that goes by and we do not see your smile, hear your bubbly laughter or listen to your thoughts and ideas.

We have never stopped believing that we’ll find you. We are saving our hugs and kisses for you. Always know that you are loved. Most of all, don’t ever give up.

We WILL find you. We promise!

Mom and Dad
The words are certainly heartbreaking, but also motivational in forcing us to recognize how more needs to be done to assist the families of missing children.


angelcel said...

This is heart-breaking. We're constantly told that the world is no less safe than when we were children but even in this small community I never, ever took chances with my girls. I didn't want *my* child to be the statistic, the 'chance in a million'. This must be totally devastating for this family because they *weren't* taking chances. She was simply snatched from right under their noses. I simply don't know how one deals with that.

Natalie said...

I don't know what society would do without hope. I've never been scared of abductions until I had children, and as frustrated as I get over poopy diapers and sleepless nights, if I didn't have their smiles and personalities around me, I would probably wither up.

Statistically, kidnappings aren't very high, but still heart-wrenching. Sexual molestations are much higher (1 in 3 females) which is even scarier. Sigh. It's a good thing we have hope and people trying to make the world a better place!

Stephanie Faris said...

Wow. How sad. It's most difficult for me to read things like this because you can see it happens SO quickly. And it could happen to anyone with children. You can't watch them every second. This girl just stopped to get sand out of her shoe. That was maybe a half a minute??? Scary stuff.

Bob said...

Tragic story - 6 year old child abducted in view of her mother and several other witnesses. All within about 30 seconds! And the mother knew within 10 minutes no doubt something was wrong. An odd truck with an odd camper... how could something odd like that vanish, with an abducted child allegedly held within it?.

What's most troubling to me is why? An empirical WHY? A real eye-opener, this abduction!

When I was 6 it was 1960. The Beatles were just about to go onto the Ed Sullivan show, Star Trek was what?- 3 years off; as was the Fugitive; the Twilight-Zone, and the legal drinking age was 18... something at 6 I didn't consider, but at 16 I did.

Kidnappings happened, even then, but I don't think they compare with what happens today. Even in 1960, we were taught about "stranger-dangers". There were no mandates to parents forcing them to educate their children about the dangers, they just did.

Back then, children were pretty much on their own, from age 6 on... rarely were we sent to organized functions or events. We might have to phone home, on occasion, but for the most part we ran free, we ruled the world in our own minds. We roamed the woods, playgrounds, baseball fields with impunity.

Of course, we were afraid of the "boogie-man", or the "gully-kids" or the man in the park exposing himself. The idea was... be alert, always have a plan of escape, avoid trouble. And somehow, despite the lack of supervision, we survived.

So what happened?

I have my thoughts. Simply put - one moral, "Don't harm others". Seek help from professions if you feel it about to happen. And don't pick on kids!!!

Fact is, this little girl should be with her family now, and she's not. And there's something very wrong with the picture. I find it hard to believe in 1995 that none of the witnesses were suspicious of this guy who is alleged to have abducted the girl. It's like they all knew him and didn't feel alarmed. Are strangers like this common at such games? I wouldn't know as I never grew up that way. Just seems, one would notice a stranger abducting a local child.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

These stories are so hard for me to read. I can't imagine...

Sandra G. said...

Very scarey thoughts.

I grew up in the era of Clifford Olson, the man who snatched and murdered 11 children between the ages of 9 and 18 yrs in the early 1980's in the part of BC that I resided in. I was the same age as some of the younger victims. Those years changed my upbringing, I'm sure of it.

All the foundations are a good thing - I couldn't even imagine what it would be like to lose a child.

JennyMac said...

This makes me heart-sick...and literally teared up.

Bob said...

I find myself fixated on the title of this sad story... "Taken and Never Returned".

Most child abductions are by people familiar or within a certain personal reach of the victim and/or family. Stranger abductions ARE common in movies, but as Slam Dunks says, this isn't like the movies.

The title makes me feel like Slam Dunks is, my opinion, sub-consciously thinking the abductor might have thought about returning the little girl. And "return" is generally to someone you know.

Always thinking...

lynda said...

You have brought up an extremely good point regarding the truck and why it was so hard to locate. I'd also like to ask, since you grew up in the area, Alma is a small town isn't it? Is it the kind where everyone knows each other? And if yes, another poster brought up another good point, if it is small town, why would it not concern anyone that this strange, unknown man was talking to the children. I myself have wondered since Alma is "mountainous" whether it was a case of a "mountain man" coming in, abducting her, and taking her back up into the mountains. We know this has happened before. Alma also seems to be a pass-thru for several freeways converging. Is there easy and quick access to just abducting her and quickly getting on freeway and being long gone? I have corresponded with Colleen Nick (Morgans mom) and she said that the stories of previous attempted abductions around the time of Morgans disappearance are FALSE. There was a case of a child taken from a laundromat but that was a custody dispute. She stated that there have been NO viable suspects to this day.

Slamdunk said...

I appreciate you adding your observations Lynda.

I grew-up a few hours from Alma and am not as familiar with the town as others--we had relatives in Ft. Smith.

It is certainly possible that a stranger passing trough is responsible for what happened. Small communities that have roadways that travelers use to get to the Interstate, unfortuntely also to deal with the crime and congestion problems.

I appreciate your clarification that the other abduction attempts in the area have been shown to be unrelated. I was basing my post on memory and dated stories and am glad that someone with more knowledge commented.

Unfortunately, my guess is the reported vehicle involved was a wild goose chase and authorities and the public spent lots of energy chasing after nothing (similar to what happened in the Maryland Sniper case of a few years ago).

You are welcome to send me an email at the gmail address listed on the side of the homepage--with more information, I can do a second post on this awful case.

Thanks again.

Live in Stereo-News said...

I pray hard for this case. My heart breaks and it is near my place I live now.

Live in Stereo-News said...

My prayers to our Lord for him bringing thing of darkness to light in this case. It is heart wrenching Sickening. Near where I live now also.